Dave Macleod’s Guide to Winter Gloves

Selecting the proper gloves for the environment and activity is a personal decision. Dexterity or warmth are typically the only options. Waterproof or fast drying is often the second decision that must be made when selecting gloves.

Obviously, there are many factors that must be determined when choosing the right pair of gloves for your specific activity. Keeping this in mind, you’ll want to read more. We’ve called on Dave MacLeod, Dave is a Pro-Team athlete and he has some words of wisdom to help us in selecting the best winter gloves. Climbers will want to make the best possible decision when they’re choosing their gloves.

Thick Vs. Thin

On an interesting note, it can take far more energy to hang on to something, including your ice tools, with thicker gloves than with thin gloves. Tightly closed hands clenching tools causes more friction and there is less muscle control over the course of time. There is a lot of challenge to effectively hang on to gear when wearing thick gloves. For this reason, it’s vital to understand that the harder routes will cause more grueling pain and muscle aches than other routes. Compound this with the fact that there is less friction when you’re using thin gloves.

Hand Structure

With a background in physiology, I know that the hand is designed to insulate on the palm side. Thus, lean rock climbers, when I recently had my DEXA scan, the fat stores on my body were found in the fat pads of my heels and of my fingers. Hands also have thick ligaments that run across the palm of the hand. These help to insulate hands when touching cold surfaces with the palm.

By contrast, the backs of the hand are thinner and don’t have the same connectivity and fat tissues padding them. The blood vessels are required to help keep you warm. Thus, the palm side of the hand offers up more resistance to the temperature extremes while the back is far more sensitive.

Thus, the more insulation on the glove back ensures that the thickness won’t affect the dexterity. However, dexterity will be affected if the wrong gloves are selected. Thinner gloves will help to improve the dexterity and they will protect the hands using the body’s own insulation.

Fit Matters

As stated above, the insulation of the gloves is the most important concern when selecting gloves that will be for specific activities. Using a specialist glove maker such as Chester Jefferies will ensure you get that perfect fit that you are looking for.   Functionally speaking, the fit of the glove chosen is vital. Thicker gloves offer a pre-curve and are designed carefully so that the fingers can be articulated. The friction on the pams is vital to the grip and the less muscular efforts. It’s also vital to choose the correct size of gloves.

Personally, I prefer smaller sizes so that I can avoid excess glove beyond the ends of my fingertips. This would interfere with my dexterity and affect my ability to close my hands around ice tools and other items that I may require when climbing. This would also close off my blood circulation as it would offer too much air space between my glove and fingertips.

Waterproof and Technique

Waterproofing is also vital to the integrity of gloves. Most winter mountaineering and especially in the Scottish Winters will require waterproof gloves in the kit. Cold and dry conditions still require waterproof gloves as the ropes will slide through the hands and can melt snow and soon, the gloves are soaked. Pretty soon, the hands are also soaked and eventually you’ll wind up having to remove them to have any sensation of feeling in your hands. This can be very counterproductive to the entire climb.

It’s always wise to minimalize the efforts by having the proper gloves in the pack and not exposing them to the snow or ice. Keeping the gloves dry will go far to help reduce the friction and the chance of having to go gloveless which is dangerous in the elements. Keep y our gloved hands in a half-zipped outer jacket and use them only when required.